Original jurisdiction in case of Washington Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation.
William H. Agnew, for plaintiff.
Edward D. Werblun, Assistant Attorney General, for defendant.
John Molnar, Cassebaum, McFall & Molnar, for intervenor.
Judge Williams, Jr. Memorandum Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 54 Pa. Commw. Page 432]
On September 16, 1980, this Court issued an Order granting a motion for summary judgment filed by intervening respondent Slate Belt Vehicle Recycling Center. This memorandum opinion is written in compliance with Pa. R.A.P. No. 1925, pursuant to petitioner's appeal of that decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The case comes before this Court on a petition to review the issuance of an Automotive Dismantler and Recycler License to intervening respondent (Slate Belt) by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, conditioned upon the completion of proper screening in compliance with the Act Regulating Junkyards, Automotive Dismantlers and Recyclers Along Highways*fn1 (Junkyard Act). The petition was filed by Washington Township, which alleged, inter alia, that the license in question was applied for and granted without investigation or inquiry by respondent, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, into existing zoning, pending ordinances, DER permits, Department of Labor and Industry approval, or general environmental conditions which the township feels make the prospective site, within its corporate limits, unsuitable. Petitioner requested that this Court void the issuance of the license for the above-listed reasons.
[ 54 Pa. Commw. Page 433]
The recipient of the license, Slate Belt, subsequently filed a petition to intervene, which this Court granted. Thereafter Slate Belt filed a motion for summary judgment, in which the Commonwealth joined. The two issues addressed in the briefs on the motion for summary judgment are: (1) whether the license was properly issued under the Junkyard Act, and (2) whether Washington Township has standing to file the petition for review.
The material issues of fact are undisputed in this case. The license in question was applied for and approved pursuant to the provisions of the Junkyard Act. The statute is clear in stating, inter alia, that no license shall be issued for any junkyard that lies within 1000 feet of a highway unless it is properly screened. Other than under four specifically enumerated exceptions, the department has no discretion in the issuance of junkyard licenses. The ultimate question before us is the propriety or impropriety of the issuance of a license conditioned solely upon compliance with the provisions of the pertinent statute. The answer appears to be self-evident.
However, Washington Township seems to contend that the issuance of a license by the Department is a blanket permit to operate a junkyard, even in disregard of any other legal requirements. As Washington Township interprets this statute, it does have standing to raise the question, because the prospective site is in an area zoned residential, and the operation would violate its zoning ordinance. Although its interpretation of the statute's application is legally incorrect, it nevertheless has ...